Cats can experience the same positive effects from massage as their human caretakers. Feline massage therapy is especially beneficial for cats living with arthritis and chronic pain disorders, for those recovering from muscle injuries or surgery and for those suffering from limited mobility. Massage is also a useful tool for managing anxiety and stress in cats prone to obsessive behaviors or other stress-related symptoms.
Benefits of Cat Massage
The benefits of massage therapy for cats are clear and it is an affordable and effective adjunct to traditional veterinary medicine.
Massage promotes relaxation and bonding, relieves stress and anxiety, improves range of motion, and helps alleviate muscle strain and spasm. It stimulates the musculatory, circulatory and nervous systems, and aids in lymphatic functioning. Additionally, feline massage enhances cell tissue oxygenation and can help flush toxins, such as lactic acid, from the body.
For aging cats and for those suffering from arthritis and similar conditions, massage is a useful tool for easing stiffness and pain and reducing the need for anti-inflammatory medications that often cause unwanted side effects. Massage triggers the body to release chemicals called cytokines, which signal the brain to flood the body with natural painkillers called endorphins.
Finding a Massage Therapist
The practice of animal massage is becoming more widely accepted, and increasing numbers of online schools are offering courses in animal massage. Although feline massage therapists are not currently required to obtain a specific certification or state licensure of any kind, there are professional organizations which do provide training and certification for things like animal massage and acupressure. In addition, some states allow only licensed veterinarians to offer professional feline massage services. You’ll want to check your state’s laws before hiring someone to work on your cat.
Of course, anyone with a decent knowledge of cat anatomy and a desire to help animals can provide beneficial massage to small animals, but you’ll want to make sure any such person comes highly recommended by your friends, vet or local animal welfare organizations.
How to Massage Your Cat at Home
Massage therapy for your cat is easy to learn and takes only a few minutes of time. The strokes used are very similar to those practiced in human massage.
- Make sure your cat is relaxed and in a comfortable place before you start the massage.
- To begin use your palms to gently stroke your cat’s entire body to get her as relaxed as possible.
- Speak calmly and reassuringly during the massage.
- Once she is relaxed, you may knead and gently manipulate the skin and underlying tissue in the areas which need special attention.
- Take your time and work each area slowly and thoroughly before moving on to the next.
- Spend additional time on areas that seem unusually stiff or tense.
- Pay attention to your cat’s body language. Behaviors like purring, sleeping, kneading, and grooming mean your cat is relaxed and enjoying the massage.
- Know when to stop. If your cat seems disinterested or bothered by your touch, consider changing the level of pressure you have been applying, moving to a different area or suspending the massage altogether and waiting for a more opportune moment. As we all know, generally our feline companions are not going to be as receptive to anything touchy-feely as our canine companions will be.
- Never use lotions or massage oils on your cat.
- Never restrain your cat or force the massage as that will completely defeat the purpose of the massage and just cause additional anxiety, stress and possible injury to your cat.
The bottom line is that you should both enjoy the experience and reap the benefits of a well-administered and well-received massage.
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